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Mershon Niesner
I believe that finding, sustaining, growing, and enjoying satisfying relationships is one of greatest joys and challenges we have as human beings. We have generally been blessed with a tremendous desire to love and be loved; to listen and be listened to; to take care of and accept care from others. And yet meaningful, sustainable relationships often elude us especially as it applies to the opposite sex.

Here are some things Ive learned in my walk through life - as a divorced single mom, widower, and over 50 remarried - about finding and sustaining a soul-mate relationship:

1. Know who you are and what you want. Youll never get what you want if you dont know what it is. As women look for love, we often take what comes our way rather than seeking what and who we want. Knowing the type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with comes from knowing who you are your values, interests, what you can/will tolerate, what you wont.

2. Learn how to disagree, speak your mind, and/or confront.

Avoiding conflict is death for a marriage. It may seem like youre on the right path by never, ever arguing or disagreeing but avoiding conflict requires repression of anger, which leads to depression of feelings. Passion is extinguished in this environment. Learn to fight fair and keep the slate clear. (see article on What Are You Afraid Of?)

3. Speaking of passion keep the fire lit! I think women often underestimate the critical role sexuality and having a really good sex life plays in a successful marriage. Men, you know what Im talking about! Create romantic opportunities, ask for what you want, talk, talk, talk do what you as a couple need to do to keep this aspect of your relationship alive and well.

4. Dont allow children and child-raising to take precedence over your marital relationship. A great marriage is the best gift you can give your children. Get away from the kids on a regular basis. Find a good sitter! Arrange for an overnight with just the two of you at least once a year. Talk about matters other than the kids, the bills, the family. Someday it will just be the two of you again. Be sure you still know each other.

5. Take responsibility for your actions and affirm each other. Say, Im sorry when you make a mistake or hurt your partner. Say, Thank you when they do something for you. Appreciate what your husband does! Dont take expected action for granted. Recognition and affirmation are two of the best gifts you can give each other. Spend them freely.

6. Dont take on the persona of, I shouldnt have to ask he should know. This is one of the greatest mistakes women make in a relationship. I hear women say things like, But if I have to ask for it, the real meaning/pleasure/gesture is lost. Get over it! Men cant read our minds. Theyre not always tuned in or on the same wave length. Maybe they just dont know. Be a big girl and ask for what you want! (Im pretty tough on this issue)

7. Get help if you need it. Dont put your head under a bushel. If your relationship is in trouble (no matter whose fault either one of you thinks it is), seek out ways to make it better. Find a relationship coach, a therapist, a marriage counselor, a book I highly recommend John Grays Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus In the Bedroom (its on tape so you can listen to it together), Dont give up keep searching and talking and striving until things get better. The answer rarely lies in changing partners.

Mershon Niesner

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